Connect with us

Sales Strategy & Management

The Top 5 Ecommerce Trends You Should Look Out For

This year could be huge: Improving the customer experience is key.

Jan Verleur




2015 is expected to be even better than 2014, with global sales growing 6.4 percent. To support that growth, we’ll see ecommerce companies focus on improving the overall customer experience and reducing friction wherever possible, to drive and support sales.

With this in mind, here are five key ecommerce trends that will dominate the year.

Related: Get Payments Right for the Final Step in E-commerce Success

1. Implementing more responsive design

Sixty-six percent of all time spent on ecommerce sites is done across mobile devices, and 61 percent of customers leave a site if it isn’t mobile-friendly.

This is no secret, but the rate of change in response is enormous. This rate of change explains why optimising the user experience for smartphones and tablets – not just smaller screens, but multiple devices with different screens – is more of a priority than ever before. Responsive design adoption is poised to grow rapidly.

Responsive design emphasises a streamlined user interface and viewing experience, with easy reading and navigation enabled (at a minimum) through resizing, panning, and scrolling.

Today, only 9 percent of the top ecommerce sites use responsive design, but attitudes are quickly shifting to align with customer behaviour. The benefits of responsive design include increased site traffic, improved customer satisfaction and higher conversion rates.

Site-flow is being simplified and optimised for all key platforms, including desktop and mobile. With no uniformity in device screen-size and multi-platform shopping more common than ever, many ecommerce brands will seek a responsive experience for their sites. (Candidly, my company is in the 91 percent of ecommerce sites that are not responsive, but we have made that goal our top priority for 2015.)

2. Bringing Apple Pay online

Apple launched its brick-and-mortar payment system last year, to much fanfare. Though Apple Pay is still strictly an in-store payment solution, there is speculation that it could become available to ecommerce merchants in the coming months.

Already, Apple has entered partnerships with online service providers such as Lyft, Uber and Airbnb, suggesting that the company’s long-term plan for the service involves more than just brick-and-mortar merchants.

If Apple Pay were to enter the ecommerce space at scale, it would be a true game changer. For ecommerce merchants, this means facilitating easier payments, reducing costs like credit card processing fees and taking advanage of the potential opportunity to team up with Apple for marketing promotions – a move most brands would see as an enormous benefit.

3. Combining Content + Commerce

This year, more ecommerce sites will couple content and commerce to create rich lifestyle-oriented destinations that keep shoppers coming back. Content will also double as a tool for SEO and branding.

Etsy does a great job at combining content and commerce by profiling artists and featuring DIY projects while using its social media platforms to promote all of it. In that capacity, Etsy has become more than simply an ecommerce site, but rather a web destination for a variety of audiences ranging from customers, and artists who may want to display their work, to visitors interested in the art/DIY lifestyle and culture.

Birchbox is another excellent example of an ecommerce site successfully creating high-quality content to generate repeat business. Its blog is packed with “how-to” guides and style tips that rival the scope of traditional lifestyle publications like Cosmo and GQ. There is also the option to buy any of the items featured in the post, whether they be dress shirts or watches. This is content and commerce working together to achieve the same objective.

Related: Secrets Of E-Commerce Success: How To Build A Great Catalogue

4. Focusing on video

According to Cisco, by 2017, video will account for 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic. As shoppers grow more responsive to visual presentation and seek responsive layouts, video will become a front-and-centre asset to convey product details – not just demos – and facilitate improved webrooming.

The shift toward video is already generating a high ROI for the advertising industry, especially among consumer packaged goods brands, many of which have seen significant increases in engagement and reach.

Video is a great way to deliver high-quality content, and it benefits ecommerce by leading to higher average orders and driving conversions. In 2015, the focus in particular will be on mobile video.

Last year alone, 25 percent of all ecommerce video plays came from mobile devices, up from 19 percent in 2013. As mobile becomes the dominant platform for online shopping, ecommerce retailers who have seen the benefit of video will focus more on leveraging it across multiple channels.

5. Mastering total remarketing

The proliferation of mobile has created an “always-on” customer. Retailers can now connect with shoppers wherever and whenever they are. And Facebook’s dominance across all platforms, especially mobile – the average smartphone user checks his or her Facebook account around 14 times a day – has made it possible to market to this huge audience on every device throughout the site.

As a result, the opportunity for online retailers to remarket to off-site targets has never been better. This is why 2015 will be the year retailers stop questioning Facebook’s ROI and fully embrace its power as a multi-channel marketing tool.

Facebook is already seeing this trend play out. Its sales jumped 50 percent in the final quarter of 2014, with mobile ads accounting for nearly 70 percent of total ad revenue. Two years ago, that number was just 23 percent.

Related: Entering the World of E-Commerce

Ultimately, this year’s ecommerce trends will be defined by the drive to constantly improve the customer experience. And by streamlining the path to purchase, online retailers will be in an even better position to take advantage of the category’s growth and drive real revenue gains above and beyond those of 2014.

This article was originally posted here on

Jan Verleur is CEO and co-founder of VMR Products, a leading manufacturer of electronic cigarettes.


Sales Strategy & Management

What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?

Hint: It’s neither your prospects’ ability to buy nor how great your product or service is.




Have you ever analysed what really drives sales in your business? Most people tie their answer to marketing or new leads. Those can be drivers but not the main driver for small businesses.

What causes one person to shop with you for years, driving out of their way to get to you, while the guy across the street won’t set foot in your door? Typically, when I ask this question, I get feedback about how great the product and service is. When I ask why the guy across the street won’t use you, I typically get some explanation of a lack of need or ability to buy.

Those answers can all be true, but that doesn’t make any of them correct.

I have spent the last seven years studying these questions and searching for both the truth and the correct answer. Surprisingly, the right answer is far easier to understand than I thought it would be. Instead of you having to become an expert on the subject, I’ll save you years and tell you what I found.

The truth and the correct answer

If you want to drive sales growth and repeat business, it boils down to understanding and then implementing one strategy: Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals sales. Think about that statement for a minute. It is true in your personal and business life right now.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

Content builds relationships

Since the dawn of man, how did we build relationships? We create content. If I found myself to be single tomorrow and on a date, I would work to build a relationship with the person I was dating by talking to them – that is, by creating content.

In B2B sales for many years, people created content by having all the knowledge and telling sales prospects about the great features and benefits of new, amazing machines. Today, we create content for our websites and e-books, as well as for downloads or videos to post on YouTube.

Why do we do all of this? Simply put, content builds relationships. And if your customer is looking to purchase anything of significant value from you, you will first need a relationship to make that happen. Once we have a relationship, what happens?

Relationships build trust

shaking-handsMost people don’t fully trust someone they just met, regardless whether it is a business relationship or a personal one. Human nature is to give a little bit of trust and to see if someone is worth giving more trust to. In other words, make them earn it. This is why delivering, at a minimum, what you said you would is so vitally important.

This is where good customer service, the person who answers the phone or sits at the front desk, can make or break a new relationship. As the relationship continues, more and more trust is given; and if the experience remains positive, the amount of trust you get grows still more. As the trust in you grows, then what happens?

Trust equals sales

The more a person trusts you, the more they will buy from you.

One bit of good news with all the competition that is popping up is that it is super easy to stand out, because there are so many poorly run companies and untrustworthy people in the world. All you have to do is do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Also, treat people the way you’d want to be treated. Since so few will do that, it is not that hard to stand out from the pack.

Related: 3 Strategies For Closing Sales Without Picking Up The Phone

Once a person has a relationship with someone, and they always get what they expect, changing from that person or business is not easy or even desirable. Because you gave good content, you created a relationship. Through that relationship you worked hard and developed trust and now, that trust you earned turns out money through, year after year. When you have 500; 1,000; 2,000; or 5,000 of those trusting relationships, they become assets of your amazing business.

If you’ve read me before, you may have heard me say that you should use a newsletter to build a fence around your customers. They will stay longer and spend more. Well, this is what I’m talking about. Had I been more sophisticated in my understanding of how all of this works seven years ago, I would have switched out the word “newsletters” for “content.”

I tell people all the time that a newsletter isn’t a magic tool. If anyone is selling you a magic solve-all-your-problems tool, you should run very far away and very fast. A newsletter is simply a vehicle to distribute content that builds relationships. It nurtures those relationships over time. You have to respect the relationship and earn trust by delivering on your product or services. If you don’t, can’t, or won’t do that, you could deliver all the content and send all the newsletters, and it simply wouldn’t matter one bit.

How to implement this in your business

The challenge with any idea is implementation. With most ideas in business, you typically have four choices, and this one is no different.

You can do the following:

  • Do nothing. This is what most people do, which is good news for you, because it is also what most of your competitors are doing. That makes it very easy to stand out.
  • Do it yourself. Content has to be created, and maybe you’re the best person to do that right now in your company.
  • Hire an employee to do this for you. Of course, you could hire and train a content creation person and outsource editing, graphic design, etc.
  • Find a company to help you implement this strategy.

Related: The 5 Best Actions You Can Take To Improve Sales Calls

Regardless of your decision, if you want to truly grow, or if you want to beat the competitor down the street, or if you want to increase the value of your company, it starts with this strategy: Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals sales.

This leaves you with one thing to as you finish this article: Look back at the four options and make a choice.

This article was originally posted here on

Continue Reading

Sales Strategy & Management

Get Those Quotas Moving (Upward!) In 2018! 5 Things Your Salespeople Can Do

Fewer than half of salespeople make quota, on average. Here are some best practices for to help them hit their targets in the new year.

John Holland




Whether they had a tremendous 2017 or a difficult one, sellers likely hit the re-set button with the start of this new year. And that button push probably was accompanied by more aggressive quotas for those sellers to achieve in 2018.

So, what should sellers do to gear up for the coming year? As 2018 gets under way, here are five things I can share to help sellers get off to a good start.

1. Avoid stale quotes and proposals

Unlike fine red wine, proposals that have been in the sales pipeline more than 45 days old aren’t getting better. Many of them, in fact, are likely to have “no decision” outcomes.

So, if you’re the seller, what’s going on? There may be instances where your prospects have chosen a competitor and not given you the bad news. My suggestion is to send a snail mail letter, “return receipt requested,” to the highest level you’ve called on within the account. State in the letter how long the proposal has been outstanding, noting that you haven’t been updated on its status and that you intend to withdraw if you don’t hear anything back.

Related: 3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

The hope is that your letter will cause the buyer to contact you and say there is still interest. If that’s the case, you can ask to revisit the opportunity (help facilitate a cost vs. benefit analysis) and see if a revised recommendation can be made.

If your letter doesn’t elicit a response, you can safely remove it from your forecast. While that’s not the desired outcome, you’ll have the benefit of a more realistic view of the size and health of your pipeline.

2. Create add-on opportunities

Sellers often believe that if customers have additional needs, they’ll proactively reach out. Certainly, close rates will be higher when there is an existing relationship vs. when sellers are closing new accounts. That’s why sellers should take a look at each client and try to determine potential business needs that might be addressed through the use of their company’s offerings; they should then proactively contact the key players who might be interested.

The key to initiating add-on opportunities is taking executives from latent to active need for a company’s desired business outcomes.

3. Be realistic with nurtured leads

If the cost of your offerings exceeds $50,000, you may want to take a hard look at the entry level that nurtured leads provide. My view is that many of those leads get sellers in touch with people that are doing product evaluations. So, those people may not be working with budgets and have not identified potential areas of value/payback that can be realised through the use of your offerings.

Ask yourself if the contact you’ve been given is a potential champion who can provide you access to the key players you must call on to sell, fund and implement the offering being considered. If not, I suggest you treat the contact as a coach that may be willing to get you an introduction to a higher level that may then serve as your champion. My thought is to gain access to people who will see value in your offerings.

Related: How South Africa’s Small Businesses Plan To Invest Their Money In 2018

4. Ask for referrals

Satisfied customers can be under-used assets, especially if sellers can help them quantify results.

My preference is that sellers break down benefits and values specific to titles and outcomes that have been achieved using those sellers’ offerings.

Once quantified, sellers can ask if their customers know of any other individuals or companies they could be referred to.

5. Plan a sales cycle ahead

When I was in engineering school, I was a “just-in-time” learner in that I studiously avoided professors who assigned homework and also approached midterm and final exams with some last-minute cramming.

Some sellers follow my academic model – and that’s not smart: In terms of their year quota, many sellers who are not YTD against their numbers believe they can close enough business in the last quarter to make up for their previous gaps. But this is a very stressful strategy, and there will be times when sellers run out of runway.

An alternative I’d suggest is for sellers to break their quota into monthly increments and multiply that number by the months in an average sales cycle. They can then estimate their close rates and set pipeline thresholds they should try to exceed.

Once they’re at the stage of interviewing committee members, sellers can then negotiate their activities and time frames via a written document with buyers (I call this pipeline “E”). Here’s an example of how to project ahead:

  • A seller has a $2.4 million quota ($200,000/month).
  • Her average sales cycle is four months and her close rate is 50 percent.
  • Therefore, her “E” target is to close $800,000 or more every four-month period.
  • At any time, if she is YTD or better, her E target will be $1.6 million in her pipeline.
  • In a given month, any shortfall from YTD must be doubled and added to that $1.6 million; business development efforts must be ramped up.

Being aware of YTD performance to date and projecting the sales cycle that’s ahead on a monthly basis can reduce stress levels during Q4.

And reducing stress is good, right? I hope these tips can help make your 2018 a great, and de-stressed, year.

This article was originally posted here on

Continue Reading

Sales Strategy & Management

(Podcast) Are All Prices Negotiable?

Person, socialisation, product, place – what are the key differentiating factors between those who negotiate price and those who don’t? And who determines the value of a product?

Nicholas Haralambous




What is up for negotiation? When should you be negotiating prices, and when should you be open to negotiating prices with your customers?

Person, socialisation, product, place – what are the key differentiating factors between those who negotiate price and those who don’t? And who determines the value of a product?

Listening time: 8 minutes

Related: (Podcast) Phone Calls Often Solve Email Problems

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.


FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​